It could have ended like a Hollywood movie.
Yonder Alonso could have scored the winning run and been named Most Valuable Player in his first All-Star Game, a game played in his hometown in front of 60 family members and friends who cheered him on loudly inside Marlins Park.
All the former University of Miami and Coral Gables High standout needed after leading off the ninth inning with a single off Kenley Jansen and an unexpected stolen base off Yadier Molina was for somebody to bring him home.
But the hit never came.
“If he scores the winning run, can you imagine?” his father Luis said in Spanish as he held his grandson Troy, Yonder’s 18-month-old son, following the American League's 2-1 victory over the National League Tuesday night.
“That would have been unbelievable. But how can we really ask for anything more? I mean, he got two hits. Everything went great. You can’t ask the man upstairs for anything else.”
Yonder, 30, didn’t win MVP honors. Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano did after he led off the 10th inning with what turned out to be the game-winning home run.
While it would have been a storybook ending for Alonso to take home that trophy, what he and his family experienced over the last 72 hours was something none of them will soon forget. Because the road to Tuesday night’s All-Star Game was filled with sacrifice and struggle for all of them, and in the end so very, very rewarding.
“It was a special day,” said Alonso, who fled communist Cuba on a tiny propellor plane with his parents and younger sister 22 years ago only to watch his parents struggle to speak English and work multiple jobs cleaning offices and warehouses here in Miami to scrap for what little money they earned.
“It was a day I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting to have a lot of fun, but I really felt the love of Miami. Many people came to watch me and cheer me on. It was really a special day for me and my career.”
It was special, really, because Alonso got to share it all with his father, who left his own professional baseball career in Cuba behind to lead his family to freedom.
Everything Yonder did during the All-Star festivities – from riding in the back of a truck to Marlins Park during the player parade on Tuesday afternoon to taking batting practice and hanging out with his American League teammates on the field before the game – he did with his parents, wife and son along for the ride.
Although the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft had some good moments during his first seven years in the league with the Reds, Padres and Athletics, this season has been a breakout performance and the first time he’s truly felt 100 percent healthy since becoming a pro.
So, it was no surprise considering all the circumstances he was emotional from the start of Tuesday’s game.
“Hearing the anthem I had some tears that’s for sure,” said Alonso, who went into the All-Star break with Oakland batting .275 with 20 homers and 43 RBI – after never having hit more than nine homers in a season.
“I looked at my Dad up in the stands and he had some tears running down too,” he continued. “So I knew it was special for him. As soon as the game started, I knew my emotions were going to calm down a little bit and my adrenaline was going to kick in and I was just going to have fun.”
Alonso entered the game as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning for starter Justin Smoak and then singled off Diamondbacks ace and former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke with two outs in the sixth in his first at-bat. After reaching first base, Alonso quickly found his parents sitting in the stands and pointed in their direction.
When he collected his second hit of the game in the ninth, Alonso became just the fifth Oakland A’s hitter to have multiple hits in an All-Star Game joining Rickey Henderson (1982), Bert Campaneris (1975), Reggie Jackson (1972) and Jimmie Foxx (1934, 1935).
Afterward, Alonso said he couldn’t wait to go back home and hear broadcaster Joe Buck call both of his hits on his DVR recording of the game.
“I've seen so many All-Star games and seen so many guys get hits,” Alonso said. “Just hearing [Buck’s] voice and hearing him call a hit, I’m definitely going to record that audio and remember it forever. I just want to hear him say my name and really just enjoy the moment.”
After the game, it didn’t take long for Alonso to find his family standing in the hallway outside the American League clubhouse including his brother-in-law, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who wore Alonso’s No. 17 jersey in a show of support.
“It’s just so many emotions, man,” Alonso said as he doled out kisses and hugs to family members. “I'm definitely going to enjoy the night and the next couple days and really relish it with my family.”